Pixel Tracker

Friday, February 22 , 2019, 11:27 pm | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Senator Jackson’s Bill to Close the Wage Gap Passes Out of Committee

A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to close the wage gap that women face at work passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support Tuesday.

Senate Bill 358, the California Fair Pay Act, would ensure that women are paid equally for work that is substantially similar to the work of their male colleagues, and do not face retaliation if they discuss or ask how much their male colleagues are paid. If signed into law, it would be the strongest equal pay law in the nation.

Aileen Rizo, a Fresno resident and math consultant at the Fresno County Office of Education, testified in support of the bill. She has a complaint pending in court over pay inequity she discovered while working at the Fresno County Office of Education in 2012. She discovered a male colleague was being paid $12,000 more per year for the same work, even though he was hired four years after she was, and had less experience, education and seniority.

Next month, the court will decide whether Rizo’s case goes to trial. For more about her story, click here.

“This bill will give women more tools to fight pay discrimination, and close loopholes that hold women back,” Rizo said.

“Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California. And it is long overdue. Families rely on women’s income more than ever before. Because of the wage gap, our state and families are missing out on $33.6 billion dollars a year, “ Jackson said. “That money could be flowing into families’ pocketbooks, into our businesses and our economy. After years of dealing with a persistent wage gap, and an equal pay law that has been on the books since 1949 but that is not as strong as it should be, the time is now for women’s paychecks to finally reflect their hard work and true value. It is time that we fix the wage gap that women face at work and lead the nation in showing how it can be done.”

“Women are critical to building a strong and vibrant economy in this state and have played a pivotal role in the economic recovery of the past few years. They are also breadwinners in two-thirds of families with children. Yet women, especially women of color and mothers, continue to lose precious income to a pervasive, gender-based wage gap. SB 358 will make California’s equal pay law clearer, stronger, and more effective,” said Jennifer Reisch, legal director for Equal Rights Advocates, a San Francisco-based civil rights organization.

The bill has the support of dozens of organizations, including a broad spectrum of labor groups, women’s and legal advocacy organizations, and local government. Although they were initially opposed, the bill also now has the support of the California Chamber of Commerce and is unopposed by the California business community.

The bill would go further than the federal Equal Pay Act in a number of ways:

» It would prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss or ask about pay at work.

» It would allow employees to challenge pay discrimination based on wages paid to other workers at different worksites of the same employer. For example, a female grocery store clerk who works at a store could challenge higher wages being made by male grocery store clerks at a store owned by the same employer just a few miles away.

» Employees could challenge pay discrimination based on wages paid to those doing substantially similar work. For example, a female housekeeper who cleans rooms in a hotel could challenge the higher wages being paid to a male janitor who cleans the lobby and banquet halls.

» It would require employers to show that differences in wages are due to factors other than gender, that the factor is job-related and reasonable, and that these factors — rather than discrimination — account for the difference in pay. For example, if a male chef is making more money than a female chef because he works weekend shifts, the employer would have to show that the weekend shifts are busier and require more work and account for the difference in wages. In addition, the employer would have to prove that the weekend shift position was open to all chefs, and that the employer hired the male chef because he was the most qualified or willing to work the shifts.

In 2013, a woman in California working full-time made a median 84 cents to every dollar a man earned, according to the Equal Rights Advocates, co-sponsors of the bill. The gap is significantly greater for women of color. Latinas in California make only 44 cents for every dollar a white man makes, the most significant Latina wage gap in the nation. African-American women are only paid 64 cents on the dollar. As a group, women who are employed full-time in California lose approximately $33.6 billion every year due to the wage gap.

Jackson is chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. SB 358 is one of the bills prioritized by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus this year as part of a package titled, “A Stronger California: Securing Economic Opportunity for All Women,” designed to advance women’s economic opportunities as the state rebounds from the economic downturn.

SB 358 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County. 

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

 

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.